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Cancer survivor and mother speaks out for World Cancer Day

Jocelyn Degula

When Jocelyn Degula began planning her family’s move from Dubai to Dawson Creek in 2021, she couldn’t have imagined what her first year in the northeastern B.C. town would look like. 

Jocelyn Deluga was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer during a routine health exam a month before their move from Dubai to Dawson Creek. Her home was packed, her children were about to start school, her husband was starting his courses at the local college — they couldn’t change their plans.

One week before the move, Jocelyn had the tumour surgically removed, but she still needed chemo and radiation treatments to eradicate remaining cancer cells. In August 2021, Jocelyn found herself in a new country without a support network and no knowledge of the healthcare system, trying to figure out how to access the life-saving treatment she needed. 

Dawson Creek’s hospital connected her with BC Cancer — Centre for the North in Prince George and their team jumped into action. Jocelyn learned she would need to spend a month in Prince George — a five-hour drive away from her new home in Dawson Creek — for treatment. 

BC Cancer – Prince George serves over 115 communities across the North and covers a geographic area roughly the size of France (600,000 km2). Patients from remote communities face additional challenges, including organizing travel, finding and paying for accommodations near their treatment centres and other issues that come with being away from home for long periods of time.

“I needed to bring my children, because they were still small and my husband was studying. They told me not to worry about the accommodation and they [BC Cancer’s Patient & Family Counselling team] arranged an Airbnb for us to stay in during my treatment.”

This was provided through the BC Cancer Foundation’s donor-funded Beyond Barriers Patient Relief Fund. The fund provides patients, who meet program specific criteria, with financial and logistical resources needed to access treatment. This includes patients from rural communities like Jocelyn. 

Jocelyn is now cancer-free and her family has settled into their life in Dawson Creek.  

“We are very thankful. Even though we were new here and we didn’t know anyone, they still treated us as if we were family.”

The Beyond Barriers Patient Relief Fund is made possible thanks to the donor community. Give today to help support patient from rural communities, access life-saving care. 

On February 4, World Cancer Day, millions of people around the world will unite to move closer to a world where no one dies from preventable cancer or suffers unnecessarily. A place where everyone has access to the cancer care they need. World Cancer Day 2023 marks the second year of the three-year ‘Close the care gap’ campaign centred on the issue of equity. 

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